Young Workers for God
The only Church in the United States Built by Children.
Under the above title there comes to us from the Hon. Wm. G. Ewing, one of the judges of the Superior Court of Chicago, a most interesting account of the building of a Christian Science church by children at Schofield, Wisconsin.
Of all the beautiful demonstrations in connection with Christian Science church-building this leads the van. No one can peruse this sweet bit of history without feeling strongly reminded of the Scriptural prophecy, so familiar to all Christian Scientists, “and a little child shall lead them.” Verily the children in this case have shown themselves leaders in the most advanced religious movement in the world. They have set, as stated in the article, an example for their elders well worthy of emulation. God will prosper such work as this in bountiful measure, and down the centuries will go, as one of its brightest pages in religious history, this “demonstration” of a Christian Science church built exclusively by children.
Following is Judge Ewing’s account:—
Dear Journal:—On the first day of January, 1899, I witnessed, at Schofield, Wisconsin, the dedication of a Christian Science church built by children, and as the history of the enterprise very profoundly interested me, I beg to tell the story of their demonstration to the readers of the Journal. In March, 1896, Miss Mary E. Graves, a primary student of Mrs. Eddy, residing at Schofield, organized in her own home a Sunday School composed of eighteen children ranging in age from eight to fourteen years. You will understand better the whole situation when I tell you that although Schofield is nearly half a century old, it is what is known in lumbering districts as a milling town, and is composed entirely of the saw-mills of the Brooks and Ross Lumber Company, the homes of their employees, a post office and, now, a Christian Science church.
The services of the Sunday School have included, from the beginning, the reading of the regular lesson prescribed for each Sunday, and then such usual Sunday School exercises as are customary in our Church. The officers of the organization are, and from the beginning have been, a First and Second Reader, a treasurer, and a clerk. It is thoroughly a democratic institution; the children elect their officers and manage, in all its details, the business of the organization. Miss Graves is the First Reader; Miss Florence Harney, a bright little miss of fourteen years, is the Second Reader, and an exceedingly good one; Miss Edith Harney, a young girl of sixteen, is the clerk, and has a complete record of all the transactions of the organization; while Alfred Glarson, a young gentleman of fourteen, is the methodical and exact keeper of the treasures of the organization. It would be interesting, I know, for any one, to see the books kept by the little man treasurer. The weekly collections of the Sunday School average each Sunday from one cent to ten cents from each member of the class, and yet each individual scholar is given credit for his contribution. When any moneys were paid out the Treasurer had the voucher of the First and Second Readers and the Clerk for such disbursement, and on the thirtieth of each month he presents a complete balance-sheet, showing all the money received up to that time, all the disbursements, and the exact balance of cash on hand.
On the first day of October, 1898, it was discovered that the organization had a surplus of nine dollars, whereupon the children held a meeting and resolved, in the most formal, yet confident manner, to appoint a building committee and build a church to be used by the Sunday School for its purposes until they could “demonstrate” three adult members, and then, under the laws of the State of Wisconsin, complete a church organization and turn their house over to such body, to be known as the First Church of Christ, Scientist. of Schofield, Wisconsin. The officers of the Sunday School composed the building committee, and immediately the work began. In a day or two a lot was donated; from some good lady they had a donation of ten dollars to the building fund, and immediately following this a patient of Miss Graves, who had been the recipient of great good from her treatment, insisted that she had not paid in proportion to the benefit she had received, and gave twenty-five dollars to the building fund.
The building committee then went to Mr. Brooks and negotiated for lumber at wholesale prices, stating that they did not expect to do more than put in the foundation this winter, and would not need the lumber before spring. Mr. Brooks, however, encouraged them to go on and complete their church at once, and advised a larger building than they were expecting to construct. Within a day or two plans for the church were agreed upon, the work commenced, and in exactly sixty days from the first action taken by the children the church was completed and dedicated—a beautiful little structure, twenty by forty feet, with a pure Greek front, inside finish in hard wood, with a fine hard wood floor, a handsome reading desk, beautiful hard wood pews, a fine organ, and the structure nicely lighted and warmed. All the dedicatory services were conducted by the regular officers of the organization. The seating capacity of the church is one hundred; on the day of the dedication it was filled to its utmost limit, and a more beautiful and impressive service I have not witnessed anywhere. These services were attended by Mr. E. W. Brooks, one of the proprietors of the mill, and Mr. A. T. Ewing of Chicago; Mr. Hugh McDonald of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Mr. E. P. Arpin of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and by many of the officers and members of the Christian Science Church at Wausau, Wisconsin.
It is proper and very gratifying to me to state here that, prior to the dedicatory service, every obligation of the building committee was paid, and the manly little treasurer reported, with an air of dignified satisfaction, that he had $2.27 in the treasury.
This is the story; this is what the little children at Schofield have done; but what its result will be when the example, the energy, the enterprise, and the intelligence of these little children shall have wrought their perfect work, eternity alone can reveal.
The Christian Science Journal, Vol. 16, No. 11, February 1899 Public domain Collection